Friday, 5 October 2007

trailer: sweeney todd: the demon barber of fleet street


I consider myself a big Tim Burton geek (and Lara is an even bigger fan), but even I have to admit that, despite how welcome The Corpse Bride and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (both 2005) were after the disappointments of Planet of the Apes (2001) and Big Fish (2003), the last truly great Burton film was 1999's Sleepy Hollow. The question, of course, is where Sweeney Todd will fall - will it be another Planet of the Apes-style disaster, a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style solid crowdpleaser, or the long-awaited next Burton masterpiece?

This trailer suggests he's got the visuals down - the film's highly stylized Victorian London looks stunning, but, then again, we don't expect anything less from a Burton film. The cast, featuring Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Timothy Spall alongside the inevitable Burton fixtures of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, promises greatness, and, though the trailer only gives us a brief hint of song, Burton has demonstrated enough flair with darkly comic song-and-dance numbers in the past to earn my trust. Allow me to be cautiously optimistic, and to look forward to this immensely.

8 comments:

Neil Sarver said...

Wow! I can't imagine calling Sleepy Hollow "great", but then I can't imagine calling The Corpse Bride or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory anything similar to acceptable... I reckon The Corpse Bride is closer, as it was the only movie he's made since Sleepy Hollow that even suggested for bits that it was made by someone capable of greatness.

As to this, I have zero confidence. Mind you, I think the Burton of the past, the artist Tim Burton, rather than studio hack Tim Burton, might have been able to make something of this wonderfully dark Sondheim musical, but I can't imagine this being anything close to that, and frankly the alleged short running time and John Logan screenwriting credit only make me more and more skeptical.

Daniel Vella said...

Hmmm...I feel that Burton is the closest modern Hollywood has to an "auteur" in the strict original sense, that is, someone who brings a distinctive personal voice to commercial studio projects. I find Sleepy Hollow to be tremendously, endlessly fun, a visually gorgeous baroque horror adventure tinged with black comedy and a subtext about the conflict of rationalism and myth/romanticism...basically everything Gilliam's Brothers Grimm tried and failed to be (incidentally I think it's also easily the best of the Francis Ford Coppola-produced "literate" horror movies of the 90s that also included his Dracula and Branagh's Frankenstein.)

I can't deny that he's pretty much had as many misses as hits, but his hits include some of the very best films of the 90s - Edward Scissorhands would be in my top three and is one of the films that had the most influence on me, growing up. While it's true he hasn't been on top form for close to a decade (as I pointed out)I'm willing to be somewhat optimistic about this...

Robert said...

Actually I found Big Fish to be one of his best films.

Sweeny Todd doesn't look too good but like everything else Burton has done. I'll watch.

Neil Sarver said...

I don't dislike Sleepy Hollow. I merely find it a few comfortable steps short of actual greatness.

And I'd agree that the Burton of old to be one of the last of the Hollywood-style auteurs, but I've found his work of the last 10 years to be safe to the point of cowardly. I was on the side of him being on a cold streak for a while myself, but I genuinely think he's lost the courage of his conviction and merely contents himself to add a "Tim Burton" quality to Hollywood product in a generally self-conscious manner. Even the movies he fails to do that with, Planet of the Apes and Big Fish, still seem calculatedly within a very safe realm of movies designed to make a decent profit while potentially demonstrate him working outside his "safe zone".

Mind you, I genuinely admire the first decade and a half of his career, which has several moments of genuine brilliance, "Vincent", Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood without any question, but I've genuinely come to the belief that the filmmaker that made those movies doesn't exist anymore.

Daniel Vella said...

Well...it's undeniable Burton's output this decade doesn't match up to his previous great works, and doesn't capture the sense of "Burtonness" to a full degree - though I'd say Corpse Bride succeeds beautifully for most of its running time, let down only by a bizarrely rushed ending that comes from nowhere and makes no sense.

All in all most of his films (let's leave aside the nadir of Planet of the Apes) remain more than watchable and he still demonstrates enough skill and vision to warrant a hope that another masterpiece just might be possible.

Incidentally, there's a great essay by Kim Newman on Sleepy Hollow that gets to the heart of a lot of reasons why I think it's such a great film:

http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/feature/115/

Robert said...

and pee wee's big adventure is another one of his stinkers.

Daniel Vella said...

Actually that's the one Burton film I haven't gotten round to watching, so I can't comment...

Neil Sarver said...

See, now, I'd easily count Pee-wee's Big Adventure among his best work. It's an hilarious script by Paul Reubens and Phil Hartman, directed by Burton with amazing energy and creativity by Burton.

The Corpse Bride has brilliant moments, in part because it hides beneath its surface a much better story, the tale of The Corpse Bride herself, but unfortunately focused its attention on its strangely uninteresting, unemotional male lead and his choices, which are ultimately less interesting and less meaningful. That's the most obvious sign to me that he's not really trying.

And, that's the only movie he's made in the last 10 years that I found watchable and that I'd even consider rewatching for any reason at all, and even then the idea disappoints me.